It's July. Wimbledon is in full swing in England. Across the pond in the US, backyard barbecues celebrating the 4th of July are taking place on the East and West Coasts (and everywhere in between). Whether they are watching tennis or getting ready to see fireworks, everyone is on the lookout for a perfect summer party cocktail. The ideal choice on both sides of the Atlantic is Pimm's Cup. This summertime treat has a bubbling mixer, luscious summer fruits and a bright tawny gin-based liquor that is ideal for daytime drinking.
Pimm’s No. 1 Cup dates back to the 1840s when James Pimm, the landlord of an oyster bar in London’s financial district, invented and marketed the concoction as a health tonic. The top-secret mixture became so popular that Pimm sold it himself for 15 years before selling the recipe. Since then, ownership has passed through various companies. Today the recipe is held by major beverage distributer Diageo. Pimm's Cup remains a sensation in the United Kingdom where the cocktail is synonymous with summertime. (Over 230,000 cups, garnished with nearly 28,000 pounds of strawberries, will be served during the two weeks of Wimbledon alone.) Aside from British expats and people from New Orleans, this refreshing libation remains fairly unknown in America.
With the scorching heat of summer upon us , July 4th is the perfect time to give a nod to America's pre-independance days with this refreshing and cool British mixture.
Pimm’s is served a few different ways, but the classic recipe calls for it to be made by the pitcher. You need a cucumber, fresh mint, fresh summer strawberries, a few other succulent fruits, a bottle of Pimm's and a sparkling non-alcoholic mixer.
Recipe for a classic Pimm’s Cup:
Fill a pitcher with ice and add one part Pimm's to three parts Sprite or, for less sweetness, an equal combination of tonic water and soda water. Stir with a large spoon.
Add a handful of fresh strawberries and a few blackberries, cherries and blueberries (for color) and give the mixture another stir. Add a quarter of a cucumber, sliced, and a few mint sprigs that have been slightly crushed in your hands. Pour the finished product into glasses, each of which has a few cubes of ice.
Alternatively, to make individual servings, fill a glass with ice and pour in one-part Pimm's and three parts bubbly mixer. Add two slices of cucumber, a sprig of slightly crushed mint, a sliced strawberry and two other pieces of fruit. Insert a straw and drink immediately.
Lastly, I’ve known plenty of people who add an additional shot of gin to their Pimm's. While the tastes compliment one another, you should let your guests know that Pimm's-with-extra-gin does carry a kick. On the other hand, I have also known people who like to add a bit of sparkling water to the first couple of pitchers at the beginning of an afternoon barbecue so guests don't start falling down too early.